Britain's Armed Forces are to get a new and highly advanced satellite communication system under a Private Finance Initiative programme worth around £2 billion.
The British-based Paradigm consortium has today been selected as preferred bidder for the Skynet 5 programme, which is expected to create or sustain up to 1,500 jobs across the UK.
Defence Minister Dr Lewis Moonie said: "Skynet 5 is the biggest MoD Private Finance Initiative project to reach preferred bidder stage. We are getting this service for a lot less than we would have paid if the MoD had followed a traditional procurement route and ordered the satellites itself and operated them using its own personnel.
"We are also getting a greatly improved service with security and flexibility built in to cope with the growth in military satellite communications requirements we expect over the next few years.
"In addition, the MoD has also managed to reduce the overall cost of Skynet 5 by around £500 million by applying fresh and innovative thinking. This project is a clear example of how we are now, using Smart Acquisition principles, getting both better military capability and better value for money."
When a contract is placed later this year, Paradigm will progressively take over the management of the existing Skynet 4 series constellation in the run up to the launch of Skynet 5 satellites. Initial Operational Service will be delivered in 2005 with the full service available in 2008.
--Skynet 5 will provide continuity of satellite communications (satcom) services to UK forces with the capacity to meet expected growth in traffic up to 2018. The project provides end-to-end delivery of information services between the UK's Defence Fixed Network and in- theatre networks and users, across a wide range of military operations.
--Skynet 5 will use at least two military satellites. These satellites will take over orbital locations currently used by the Skynet 4 satellites, as they reach the end of their useful life.
--The preferred bidder is Paradigm, which is led by Astrium, a joint venture between BAE Systems and EADS. It expects to employ 312 at Stevenage, Herts (Paradigm & Astrium); 292 at Portsmouth, Hants (Astrium); 241 at Corsham, Wilts (Paradigm); 122 at Poynton, Cheshire, (Astrium); 39 at Cobham, Surrey (Logica); 86 at Newport, South Wales (Cogent); 16 at Monkstown, Northern Ireland (Cogent) and 400 at other locations across the UK, for a total of more than 1,500. (ends)